A New Camera: the Nikon D300

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If you're a regular reader you know that I've been without a camera for a while and have been debating about a new one [1, 2]. I finally made a purchase, and I feel like it was the right decision: a Nikon D300.

I'm still reading the manual and learning about the camera, but there are some things that are obviously great advances over what I was using:

  • The 3-inch, 920,000-dot screen. Obviously much bigger than the 1.8-inch screen on the Canon 20D, but what really stands out (even compared to the Canon 40D and others) is how sharp it is--having roughly four times as many pixels makes a huge difference! Menu text is super-sharp and photos are very crisp.
  • Autofocus: the D300 is very capable. Despite there being only a 0.5 EV difference on the dark side (D300: -1 EV, 20D: -0.5 EV) I feel like the Nikon is significantly faster and more sure in dim light. This may be related more to the type of AF sensor and logic used than the exposure value, but it's certainly an improvement.
  • Placing the power switch around the shutter release is where it belongs. I love that picking up a Nikon and bringing it to my eye to shoot is a one-handed motion when I need to turn the camera on. The Canon placement on the back forces it to be a two-handed operation, and it just isn't as fast.
  • The menu options of the D300 are amazing: they are all-encompassing. I don't know how many options there are but it's a lot more than the 20D offered. That's cool for two reasons: 1) it allows me to really customize the camera to meet my demands, and 2) menu options can be saved to a preset so it's easy to set and recall every change you've made.
  • User-programmable buttons. I assigned spot metering to the Func. button. I normally use matrix metering but do regularly use spot. This way, I can just tap the Func. button to get a spot reading on the active focus point--very fast, very convenient!

With the D300 I'm currently using our old Nikon 28-105 mm f3.5-4.5 lens. I also picked up a Sigma 10-20 mm and Nikon 70-300 VR to cover a large range.

Now I just need more time to use it!

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